We All Meet in the Light
We are stars wrapped in skin / The light you are seeking has always been within." --Rumi
Like moths to the porch lamp, we humans are, by nature, drawn to the light. It doesn’t matter what our political or religious views are, or with what culture or race or gender we may identify. The holiday season, in particular, turns out all that twinkles and gleams, from fairy lights to Hanukkah candles to tinseled trees frosted in snow… from kinnaras and lanterns to songs about kids with “eyes all aglow.” Even beyond this sparkly time, we strive to commune with the light through expression, as evidenced through centuries of art, music, literature, and ordinary conversation. We claim to “see the light” or “shed light” on a topic; we marvel at a “bright idea” or a “brilliant” opportunity. Even our inventions come as the “bulb flips on,” and when we feel informationally sidelined, we claim to be left “in the dark.”
Maybe this fascination with the light runs deeper we may imagine. Maybe some miniscule part of our genetic code yet remembers our earliest birthplace, that luminous, celestial star nursery known as the nebula. From that distant, eons-ago womb, our yet-formless selves coalesced to evolve inside the scorching crib of a star, perhaps even our own sun. There, the elements necessary for the entirety of life as we know it—carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfa—were generated. In fact, 97% of our bodies’ composition was manufactured within that star. The remaining 3% hearkens back to the ancient universe along with cosmic dynamics.
Our star-borne origin has left us its inheritance in other ways, too. Did you know, for instance, that we are walking, talking light machines? Like other life forms, we are photon-producing beings. More specifically, we are infrared radiators. Although the luminosity of our bodily light emissions is relatively dim (about 1000 times lower than the visible spectrum), the photons are, indeed, present and measurable. A recent brain study measured one biophoton-per-neuron in rats; given that ratio, scientists postulate that we humans may be producing over a billion photons per second! In other words, we are inexhaustible light fountains, radiating a palpable glow even as we navigate the minutiae of our daily lives—and yes, even as we eclipse one another through battles large and small.
Yet despite the shade we court too often, we are all (literally) children of the light. Perhaps, then, our draw to all that glitters is simply a deep longing to reunite with ourselves. We mine for the secrets of the universe, yet we forget that we are the universe, holding its deepest mysteries right here, inside the most elemental threads of our own DNA. We gaze at the stars, believing them to be harbingers of fate or amulets upon which to cast a wish. Yet what they are is far less mysterious: they are our shared homeland, the glowing orbs of our very creation, rooted in the deepest reaches of our galactic family tree.
And so, let us continue to gather 'round the fire, to light a candle in memory of a loved one, to create celebratory sparkle and set our personal sights on shining our brightest for the world. After all, it is our birthright to do so. The more we realize this, the more we may remember that, while one light will bravely fend off the darkness, a thousand or a million shining in mutual recognition--shadows be damned--will surely obliterate it.
Elyn Joy is a Denver-based author and educator. To contact her, or to learn more about her books, articles, and projects, visit www.elynjoy.com.
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Liang, Yitao, et al. "Study on spectrum estimation in biophoton emission signal analysis of wheat varieties." Mathematical Problems in Engineering, annual 2014.
Rusaini, Khairul. Muslim Scholars, QuotesofIslam.com. 10 December 2021.